Archives 2018

Foray France VII

Foray France VII

10 September to 19 September 2017

Having read about the amount of Euros Spain had spent on its new motorways (courtesy of the Bank of Merkle) and having heard rumours of an El Dorado with wondrous treasures beyond belief of man hidden in a torre a few miles south of Bilbao, we hoped we were not tilting at windmills when we set about getting in touch with our contacts to research this El Dorado treasure trove. It transpired that it actually existed and is a private Rolls Royce museum!! So we decided to organise a Foray to take in the Museo de Coches Antiguos y Clásicos en route to the Circuits des Remparts in Angouleme, and after much emailing and offering to pay a donation to their museum fund, they were more than happy for us to visit them and agreed to open on Tuesday for a private guided tour of the museum!!! Before leaving Bilbao we felt that the Guggenheim Museum should be added to the itinerary to add a bit of culture and to keep the ladies on side. This will prove that there is actually culture in our Forays and not just in the yoghurt!!

So, with the ferries and hotels booked, we set about planning the routes which would be incorporated in a Tulip Rally Book – and that kept us quiet for some while!!

I sent many emails to the participants many advising them to carry out the usual document checks and to let me have their current mobile telephone numbers so that we could all keep touch, the most important email being to check over the Healeys for any nagging defects that might have been around for some time. For the technically minded, before we left Blighty I went through the usual maintenance and sorted out the water leak through the wiper wheelboxes and changed them. They had been needing doing for some time as it is one of the most awkward jobs going. There is an old saying “change nothing before you go on a long tour”, and yes, you have guessed it, as soon as it rained (in Spain) the wiper arms kept lifting off the splines. My navigator should be in the Ladies England Cricket team as she was catching flying wiper arms left, right and centre!! When they came my way I dropped the catch, as I was changing gear, steering the Healey, listening to navigator, and not being able to multiskill, thus ended up with only the wiper blade!!! More later.

Day 1 Sunday 10 September; Aboard Cap Finisterre to sail to Bilbao

The hardy and brave souls who had prepared themselves for the rigours of the Bay of Biscay arrived at Portsmouth Dock for the two day crossing. Some of us were diverted into the Border Force area to be thoroughly checked over – car searched, human bodies and luggage scanned. In the Border Force office was a large box with a considerable collection of knifes and other offensive items confiscated that day!! Keep up the good work!!

Once we had all sorted out our cabins for the cruise we ventured down to the restaurant and bar. Yes we all celebrated the start of the Foray in the standard Healey manner!!!!

The Bay of Biscay did not let us down. All the stories you hear are basically true, and as the sea got up, the passengers went down – to their cabins to rest. Fortunately, later the next day the sea state became calm by Biscay standards and we were able to meet up in the restaurant for a very good meal before retiring for a good night’s sleep in preparation for the real adventure which begins in the morning. Foot note: comments overheard – “I am always seasick as soon as I step on board and it takes three days to pass” (shame we are only on a two day cruise)!; will Mr & Mrs Lowsley please come to the car deck as your Healey’s on the loose!!; comment from one of our group “We have been upgraded to an outside cabin” was this an upgrade to a lifeboat? I know it was rough but the sea was not that bad!!!

Day 3 Tuesday 12 September; Arrive Bilbao 07.45

We had a passable breakfast (no proper full English – it is a French ship!) and assembled on the car deck to disembark. (This time I had made sure my boot lid would open and not hold up the whole ferry as per Le Mans 2014.) I had studied the Bilbao dock plan to ensure a smooth transition from ship to shore, detailed instructions were handed out to the fellow travellers and as the first of our group was called to the car deck I asked that they go to the dock gate and the rest of us would laager up with them!!! Oh, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, and this did not disappoint! Firstly, they had changed the layout of the dock roads so nothing worked out according to the route book, and secondly, the first person called to the car deck was the last off. How bizarre was that! So when all the stray Healeys had been rounded up at the dock gate with no sign of the “first off ferry” Healey in sight, an executive decision was taken to proceed with plan “A”, as we all thought the first Healey was long gone down the road by now. I was surprised by the weather, it was raining!! I remember years ago when I used to fly to Spain with Iberia Airlines, that they always handed passengers each a packamac remembering the saying that “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plane”. The weather varied between wet and very wet so we hauled over at a wayside café and enjoyed breakfast number two. Contact was at long last made with the lost Healey and they had now decided to go directly to the Rolls Royce Museum (OK so I might change my mind about satnavs).

We all arrived safely at the Museo de Coches Antiguos y Clásicos for a stunning tour of this basically private museum. The current owners are grandchildren and close relatives of the Museum’s founder who kept every car he ever owned, never getting rid of any of them, and then started to purchase Rolls Royces as they became available, so ending up with a fabulous collection that includes 2 Rolls Royces that were used by our Queen. The collection is stored in 5 pavilions with the most desirable Rollers in what can best be described as a Baronial Hall. If ever you are in Bilbao at the weekend it is well worth the visit.

We left the Museo de Coches Antiguos y Clásicos at about midday and as the rain had abated we had an improving drive to Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim Museum. I must say at this point that I do not understand modern art. I mentioned this to a person who knows about these things and was informed that that was what modern art was about, so needless to say I still am none the wiser!! The architecture of the building is really stunning and is an art form in its own right, well worth the hassle of fighting through the maze of streets to get to the underground car park. And the car parks are an experience – they have lights above the parking bays, green for empty space and red for full space. How clever was that, planners please copy that over here.

Before we arrived in Bilbao we were treated to the high quality of their motorways and as we left the centre of Bilbao we went straight onto the motorway with tunnels through the mountains to travel on to our hotel for the night at Etxrea. We all enjoyed a meal together in the hotel along with ample quantities of wine and afterwards, in the bar, the bar steward seemed to have lost his measuring gauges and just poured the brandy until I said enough!

Day 4 Wednesday 13 September; Drive to Hotel Le Vieux, Sansguilhem, in the Pyrenees.

An early start was advised as there were 226 miles to be covered to get to our next hotel which would be in France. We had made it this far without any incidents worth recording and long may that continue, I hope I am not pushing my luck!!!

I had planned this drive to be an exhilarating one – motorways with stunning sweeping bridges and viaducts followed by country roads leading to the old mountain pass over the Pyrenees to France. I had been advised that fuel stations on the Spanish motorways were few and far between as they had run out of money to build them, but once we all arrived in France there would be no problems with petrol as every village seems to have a filling station.

The weather could not have been better; the rain clouds had gone and we had wall to wall sunshine. The motorways proved to be very cheap and the quality of the viaducts and bridges was first class!! There seemed to be a motorway service area everywhere on the trip and we were spoilt for choice, We therefore chose one with sun shades for the Healeys, yes sun shades. The problem re lack of service stations was old information as they were nearly two a penny!!

We left the motorway system to travel on the old byroads and as they had run out of money for the building of motorways you would find short sections of completed motorways going nowhere. We passed a deserted mountain village perched on top of what appeared to the stump of an extinct volcano. When we started the climb to the mountain pass the vistas were as I had hoped, absolutely amazing, skiing villages dotted on the mountain side (no snow this time of year) and the peak was reached.

We wound our way down into France through a gorge that made Cheddar Gorge look like a crack in the dried grass of our summer lawns and crossed the foot hills of the Pyrenees to the Logis Hôtel le Vieux.

I must add at this juncture that we could have taken a simpler and shorter route but it would not have been anywhere near as spectacular. We encountered alpine cows complete with cow bells, each bell seeming to have a different tone to it; interestingly, coming from the New Forest, we experience cows in the road on a daily basis and would never ever drive slowly past the rear end of a cow!!!! Unlike some of our city friends.

Now in France, as we approached our hotel, we found that all the local French filling stations had run out of 98 octane fuel and only some had 95 available!

Day 5 Thursday 14 September; Visit to Neolithic caves

The day started with very English weather – it rained, and after the heaviest rain had passed we set out to explore the local Neolithic caves and venture further afield to Lourdes and beyond (only in an earthly way of course). Once again the contest of maps over satnav came to the fore and in all honesty it was a draw. One satnav made it back to the hotel before the map, with another satnav following after the map. The jury is still out!!

The evening meals were typically French – one long table with everyone seated together, and needless to say the food was very good, the wine kept flowing and the company was excellent. David Thorn and I risked the wrath of the French guests by walking through the main restaurant resplendent in our Union Flag waistcoats and instead of insults we received nods of approval and genuine smiles.

Day 6 Friday 15 September; Drive to Angouleme

Once more an early start was advised as we had 223 miles to cover to reach our next hotel which would be in Angouleme. The day dawned fair, we set off in good spirits and followed the planned route which took us along beautiful winding country roads and others as straight as an arrow and all smooth as a billiard table. On through picturesque villages, we stopped for coffee and croissant and as we moved through the town we came to a very unusual sight in France – a traffic jam!!! After waiting for it to clear, which it did not, an executive decision was made to get the hell away from here!! We headed away from the queue to a side road that looked open and satnavs were primed to take us around this log jam. It worked and in no time we were back on the planned route, OK I now admit satnavs do have uses and although I am sure we would have been able to get round the problem using a map it would have taken considerably longer.

The last part of the planned drive to Angouleme was through 13 roundabouts of mixed sizes and I thought only us Brits that went for masses of roundabouts!!!

We had a bit of a rush to get down to the Hotel de Ville to book in for our prebooked Rallye Carnet which due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to take part in. Happily the Lowsley brothers (not Mr & Mrs Lowesley!!) kindly stepped up to the plate to take over our drive. The organisers are normally not too happy with late changes as there are lengthy bureaucratic procedures to be followed but we were lucky, the lady in charge was very kind and said to the brothers “put the plate and ID bands on and go for it”!!. They use the information on the entry form to inform the spectators at the start about the drivers and the car.

Day 7 Saturday 16 September; Rallye International de Charente

Jo and I spent the day visiting parts of Angouleme that we had not seen on our previous visits and found that the market was open and the provisions on display put our supermarkets to shame. We found little bars in which to rest, one of which had the most delightful custard tart that I had tasted in a long while. As the Lowsley’s Healey started the Rally we heard the commentator announce that David and Jo in their red over white BN6 100/6 were starting. His voice tailed off as he realised that it was now a blue over white MkIII.

Day 8 Sunday 17 September; Race day

The weather was a bit overcast with a threat of rain. The first few races were in the dry and when it came to the Bugatti race, a large black cloud threatened to soak us and perhaps put paid to the race that I really wanted to see.

The rain did indeed come but it did not deter those Bugatti boys and out they came to do battle. They deserve a medal. Not for them a safety car and “Oh it is too wet for us to race”.

They raced and entertained the hardy souls who, while being lashed with the rain enjoyed the spectacle of real racing as it used to be. The rain had cleared enough for the racing to carry on and we had the Group B rally cars do what they called demonstration laps. I hate to think what it would be like if they really went for it!!

The last race of the day was won by an Austin Healey and that was a great ending of an entertaining day at the races for me and many other enthusiasts.

Day 9 Monday 18 September; Depart Angouleme for Hotel Domaine de la Blairie, Saumur

Off we go to Saumur, a 232 mile drive without using motorways. I try to keep away from them because with a group in convoy, if a car gets into trouble you cannot easily go back to help them and also, it saves money! Once again a very pleasant drive through villages to arrive at Saumur Chateau where, as we have done in the past, we stopped for our lunch. We met a fellow Brit who had with him a Swallow Doretti and we all passed a pleasant hour or so. If ever you are in Saumur do visit the Chateau and take your lunch at the café above the car park. The salads are so large they would feed the thousands and still leave some over for the philistines!!!!!

We stayed overnight at our preferred Hotel La Blairie. After washing away the dust and dirt of a 232 mile drive we all assembled for our final meal together.

David Thorn and I once more regaled ourselves in our Union Flag waist coats and much to our surprise we were entertained by a large group of retired French glass blowers, who sang a local Bretagne folk song in our honour. How very pleasing that we are still liked and wanted.

Day 10 Tuesday 19 September

After breakfast the group took a leisurely scenic run back to Caen. Jo and I waved good bye to them and wished them a safe journey as they set off to drive the 175 miles up to Caen to catch the afternoon ferry sailing to Blighty We were to stay for another 4 days or so to explore the Loire Valley and visit the chateaux of the Loire.

During this time I decided to try and sort out the ongoing problem with the wiper arms. It transpired that the new type wheel boxes had a spline longer in length than the original one. This meant that the wiper arm retaining clip would not lock under the new spline. So to overcome this problem we ordered compatible wiper arms from AH Spares (with very good service) to be delivered direct to our hotel and which arrived on time to be fitted. I felt that if we had new wiper arms it would rain again, this transpired to be the fact!

Brake Upgrades for an Austin Healey 100 – BN1

Brake Upgrades for an Austin Healey 100 – BN1

We have had our BN1 back on the road since July 2008 having completely restored it over a 2 year period. This included modification within the manufacturers’ parts bins where we saw fit to suit our purpose. The engine was rebuilt by Denis Welch with ‘an adequate power increase’ which in turn was seen as a possible overload to the standard front drum brakes. To assist in this matter, I installed front stub axles and drum brakes from a 100/6. This increased the shoe width to provide better braking, and at the same time the stub axles are a larger diameter and therefore stronger.

As the years have gone by, my concerns have risen as the brakes appear slightly inadequate. This was put down to two things, I was getting more familiar with the cars abilities, and the modern saloon car braking has improved tremendously, and they can stop very quickly.

Roll the calendar forward another couple of years and I was the proud owner of a conversion kit for front disc brakes. This conversion job sounded very straight forward, and eventually my chance to install all these goodies came in the winter of 2015.

Now the tricky bit unfolds, so get yourself a coffee and read on (I will not use suppliers names, but point out the pit falls and workload that I experienced):-

It is not difficult to dismantle the front end, but keep your parts and put them aside carefully (you may need them). Now do not forget that I have 100/6 – 3000 axles, so mine stay on the car. If you need to up rate your stub axles, the job becomes larger and will involve taking the suspension to pieces to install the alternative axles (and of course more expense).

After a clean down and a grease-up, the first part to install is the conversion plate that holds the caliper (mine were original parts from stock, so no problems here). At the same time, (as they are on the same bolts, it is time for the dust covers to be fitted behind the discs). Lots of race boys do not fit these in favour of more ventilation, and there is not too much mud on a race track!!).

My new dust covers were pattern parts, but when installed were way off fitting correctly. The cover was about 12mm too far forward of the disc, therefore the caliper side was overlapped by the disc. This I believe is due to the brackets on the new parts being welded in the wrong place on the dust cover (another NFC member cut and welded his to make the correction). With great fortune, I secured a pair of original covers which did fit correctly with the required tolerance gaps. So off with the pattern parts and made ready for their return and credit.

The discs are bolted to the back of the hubs (ensure the bolts are long enough to fill the nuts, but not so long that they collide with the bolt heads behind), the bearings and oil seal are best installed on a press, but can be done with a good sized vice, but take care to get them centrally lined up to gain a good fit. With this all completed the hub goes on to the stub axle with bearings freshly packed with high temperature grease (the bearings should be adjusted to achieve a free spinning wheel, but still provide a small tolerance when the wheel is fitted and checked for vertical & horizontal rattle).

Caliper in place

Caliper in place

Now is the time that you discover the new pattern calipers are of Ford manufacture (Escort/Capri).

This means that the large special bolts holding the caliper to the conversion plate have to be a mixture of diameters.

The conversion plate is UNF as is the stud that takes the brake flexible hose bracket, but the shank that goes through the caliper needs to be 12 mm. So washer sizes are to be watched and the original dust cover plate brackets will be in need of opening out to get the 12mm bolt through them.

Do not forget to centralise the caliper about the disc, this may need additional washers as packers to get it as close as possible centrally. Now the pads can go in which are also Ford (the long wire clips in the pack are not required, only the short dimple clips).   Due the caliper bolts being newly made, also bear in mind that the studs to receive the brake hose brackets are also oversized and the brackets may need the holes increasing a little to allow them to fully tighten.

Flexi pipe with slack

Flexi pipe with slack

Now it is brake hose time. The hoses that were supplied to me were too short for this application in my opinion. I always place a small block of wood between the shocker arm and the tower plate before jacking the car up to avoid the suspension dropping fully (it also stops the rubber buffer from being squashed by the suspension weight).  In this configuration, there should be some slack in the hose for further movement downwards if needed. If too tight at this stage (I have had an MOT failure for that, as the engineer considered that the hose would snap on full suspension movement, and do not forget to check lock to lock on the steering for clearances). The short hoses are also back in the box for return and credit. I have actually fitted some of my shelf stock hoses, and they seem fine to me.

Shape of ridged pipe

Shape of ridged pipe

It is now time to recover the original ridged brake pipe that linked the two wheel cylinders in the front drums. These can be modified with a bit of care to create the strangely bent pipes needed from the caliper to the hose bracket (if they are past recovery, then get new pipes for a 3000).

As the manuals say, the other side is completed in the same manner!!

It does not stop there, the rear drum pistons on a 100 are 1 inch diameter internally, and on the 3000 which is what we are heading for, they are .75 inches diameter. We therefore have to strip the rear drum and change over the cylinder. It is only the bore size that changes, as they are the same to look at on the bench!

Whilst at it, I decided to replace the brake shoes, thereby starting with a fresh set of everything. The clips holding the cylinder into the back plate are a fiddle to split apart, but from then with the brake line disconnected, they will come away easily. I generally strip new cylinders and ensure they are swarf free before installation, and for personal satisfaction of cleanliness.

The assembly of the shoes and springs is straight forward, but ensure the shoes are supported by the back plate pins so that they are square to the drum to ensure full brake effectiveness. Check that the static adjuster is right off, and fit the drum. This needs to revolve freely.

At this point I removed the cotter pin to the handbrake cable and released the tension springs on the cross rods. This enables the rear hydraulics to work fully and not controlled in any way by the handbrake system.

Disc face on

Disc face on

Adjust the static adjuster until the drum stops revolving. So now with all brake lines re-connected, its fun time bleeding the system. Top up the reservoir with new fluid and work from the rear left corner to rear right, front left and then right front. Try the pedal and if it pumps up closer to you, it still has air in it. Bleed around the same route again. It took me 3 times around the four corners to clear the air out. Keep hands and tools clean, this fluid eats paintwork, and do not rush it!!

This ensures two major objectives, to remove the air and ensure the new fluid flows throughout the system. All the time keep the reservoir topped up. Once you are happy with the pedal and it does not pump up after a few pumps, then tighten all connections gently but firmly, and clear away.

Do not get the fluid on the paintwork, and all rags and paper towels go into the bin!!

Now with the system free of air the final adjustments can be completed. Connect the handbrake cable again, ensuring that the swivel link is approximately at 45 degrees to the axle. Reconnect the springs to ensure the rods return after use. Now go back to the rear drums and readjust the static adjuster. Slacken off at least 2 notches to get the drums free turning, and not dragging on the shoes (this may take more than 2 notches). Ideally the handbrake lever should not come up vertically before the brake is applied but settle the system in on the road and adjust as needed after a test run.

Now get someone to sit in the car and push the pedal when told. Go to each corner and spin the wheels and call for brake. This checks that all corners are completed. After this operation go back over the pipe connections to check for weeps and tighten carefully if needed. Clean up and you are done.

Note:- Over the next few days I took the car out for short trips bedding the brakes in still further. It took further adjustment on the rear drums on the shoe adjuster, until the notches were only two from locked drums. This also firmed up the pedal and created better braking at the discs as well.

I have attempted to outline the work involved and details needing to be understood, by those who consider attempting this job at home, in the solitude of the winter garage. I have been around Healeys for 40 years but I am still an amateur, so there will be other methods of working.

This article and pictures was written to describe what can be achieved at home, in a well kitted out workshop.

Just in case you are wondering, the master cylinder is still .75 inch bore as there is no servo. If you go to a servo system it needs increasing to .825 inch bore.

Having run these brakes for a season now, I can say that the brakes are such an improvement and offer great protection against the modern traffic conditions.

Good luck and if

you wish to chat, my email address is on the New Forest Centre website.

Synchronisation of Twin SU HS-type Carburettors

General

Before proceeding to synchronise your carburettors and for best results, some preparation is in order. Your carburettors should be in peak condition with no play in the throttle shaft bushings. If these bushings are worn, synchronisation is difficult or impossible to achieve since there will be a vacuum leak past the bushings. Additionally, the jet needles should be identical and correct for the application; adjusted to equal and correct seating in the piston and centred in their jet bores (if not centred, you will feel a bind when moving the piston up and down). If any of these conditions exist, the carbs should be rebuilt or at the very least torn down and thoroughly cleaned and inspected before adjustment.

1) Remove the air cleaner and take the time to clean the area in which you will be working. Check the throttle linkage for free movement and unscrew the throttle adjusting screw on each carb until it is just clear of the throttle lever with the throttle closed. Turn the screw clockwise one full turn on both carbs. Using the elevating pin, raise the piston in each carb and ensure that it falls freely onto the bridge when released.

2) Remove the suction chamber assembly from each carb (Don’t mix them up! Do them one at a time if necessary!) and, by turning the jet nut, position the jet tube flush with the bridge in each carb or as high up as it will go. Regardless, adjust the jet tubes of both carbs so that they are the same. Check that the sintered needle guide of each piston is flush with the underside of the piston.

3) Turn the jet nut two turns down. This can be checked by adjusting it so that the top of the jet tube is .125″ (1/8- INCH) below the level of the bridge using a vernier or dial caliper.

4) Back the fast-idle adjusting screw well clear of the cam.

5) Reinstall the suction chambers and recheck to ensure that the pistons fall freely onto the bridge (see step 1, above).

6) Check the damper oil level and top up with suction chamber oil (GGL9035) or 20wgt motor oil.

Synchronisation

1) Loosen both clamp bolts on the throttle interconnect mechanism. Likewise, loosen both clamp bolts on the cold-start interconnect mechanism. This allows the two carbs to operate individually.

2) Using a “Uni-syn” or other vacuum synchronising meter, balance the carbs by altering the settings of the throttle screws until the proper idle and balance is set. You can also use the time-honoured “HISS”-method: using a length of tubing as a listening device, insert it into the carb throat and listen to the air flow while you adjust the throttle screws. Adjust both screws until you hear both carbs “hiss” at the same pitch and volume (this works better than you might expect, but can make you crazy).

3) After making the above adjustment, set the mixtures by adjusting the jet nut on each carb down/clockwise (rich) or up/counter-clockwise (lean) until you achieve the fastest idle speed. Now turn each nut up/counter-clockwise (lean) until the engine speed just starts to fall off. Then turn each nut very slowly down/clockwise until the maximum speed is re-established.

4) Recheck the idle balance with the synchronising tool and adjust as required.

Re-connection

1) With the fast-idle cams of both carbs hard against their stops, adjust the cold-start connections so that both cams begin to move simultaneously.

2) Check and adjust for 1/16″ free-play in the choke cable before the cable can move the cams.

3) Pull out the choke cable knob until the linkage is just about to move the jet.

4) Using your synchronising tool, adjust the fast-idle screws to give the correct idle speed.

5) Tighten the clamp bolt on the throttle arm and choke mechanism.

6) Replace air filter assembly.

Taken from an Article date: Jan 29, 2000 

Off to a Winning Start

Off to a Winning Start

It has been a long winter… My last race of 2017 was at the Silverstone 3 hour relay on 30th September 2017. We had a 2 car team, 3000 MkII A (FSL 246) driven by my brother Charlie, Dad Bill and I were sharing with Mark Dunn who had very kindly handed me the keys to his 3000 Mk III (JNP 620C). We had a great race, the format was a 3 hour endurance relay, one car is always ready to go waiting in the pit lane and as one car comes in to change, the other follows it down the pit lane. The first car moves over to the right and the second car continues to join the track. We qualified 4th overall from a grid of 27 teams. By the end of 3 hours of hard racing, we were 3rd overall and 1st in class. Since the last race it has been a long winter, there’s only so much fettling and cleaning that can be done, and aside from a couple of pre-season test days to shake the car down, there wasn’t much high speed action for me. The car didn’t require much maintenance over the winter as it was running so well ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. All that was needed pre 2018 season was to get all of the brakes stripped down, give the car a full service and a rolling road session to check the fuelling.

My first race of 2018 was at Silverstone on 7th April 2018, supporting the brand new Equipe Pre 63’ series, a race designed for pre 1963 sports and GT cars. We have to run on 5.50 Dunlop L sections, not as wide as the 6.00 L’s that we can use in international racing, so a little bit less grip, but the steering is lighter, the car spins it’s wheels easier and moves around a little more. The 5.50L won’t last as long as the 6.00L so we have to bear that in mind. It brings us closer to the well driven MGB’s and TVR Grantura’s. The race is a 40-minute mandatory pitstop sprint, shared between myself and dad, Bill Rawles.

It was a competitive grid of 26 cars. We had stiff competition in the form of a Aston Martin Project 214 recreation and believe it or not, Elva Courier… as well as 12 other Healeys, a mix of 3000’s and 100’s! I qualified our Healey 3rd overall just 0.239 seconds behind pole. Bill started the race… I could say he was a little enthusiastic with applying the throttle at the start, as our Healey sat there in its own tyre smoke, but I may just be being critical… my 3rd place qualification soon became 13th!! But he fought back well over the next 15 minutes to get into 6th before the pit stop and change over. I jumped in with just over 20 minutes to go. We were in a battle with Mike Thorne/Sarah Bennett-Baggs Healey 3000 but after chasing down for many laps the inevitable pitstop handed us 5th, we soon cleared 4th and I was onto the back of the podium, a final push to the flag saw us finish the first race of the year 3rd overall and 1st in class!

The next race was at Brands Hatch over two days, 28th-29th April 2018. In horrible greasy conditions, I couldn’t get the power down in what can only be described as a scary qualifying session, the track was
covered in oil from the MGB V8 session just 10 minutes before. We qualified 7th overall, (have a look on my youtube page for the onboard footage, it makes for an interesting watch! Search ‘Jack Rawles
Racing’ in youtube).

By the time the race came along in the afternoon, it had dried up. The Healey had the power and was no match for the MGB’s, Healey 100’s and Turner, I won the race by 21.999 seconds over a 30-minute race. The second race of the weekend was held on Sunday, in effect, a 24 hour pitstop and the cars would start the race where they finished. MSA rulings state that if a second driver is racing in a double header, they cannot start where the first driver finished. Bill had to start dead last but this time, a greasy track to deal with and apparently …  someone had ruined the tyres the day before, but I am not sure if I agree with that, “they were fine on the last lap I drove!” I said looking at the treaded tyres which could be mistaken for slicks.

From last on the grid, Bill finished 5th overall. Bill was slightly disappointed with this result but we
think he did ok for an old boy! We went home with a pole position from race 1 and a 1st in class
trophy. I have a busy year ahead with races planned in our own car as well as David Grace’s Healey.
Next stop, Brands Hatch GP for the Historic Masters event, a 90 minute pitstop endurance race shared with David Grace. This race is on 26/27th May 2018.

 

‘Drive-it’ Day

‘Drive-it’ Day

 

Our plan this year was to have an easy day for our first event, and as it happens the sun was with us,
after a very stormy night on Saturday.

Signing on

We met at the ‘Kings Head’ at Redlynch near Whiteparish, West Grinstead, Whadden, Alderbury and back via Downton for coffee at 10.30pm. There was a good turn out of 11 cars, including David Tofts freshly restored 100/6 making its maiden club appearance, and looking remarkably smart (not a Sprite in sight, so where are you all?).

Chatting

The time was spent chatting and eventually after signing the MSA form, folk went off for the 19 mile planned drive. The route went through Downton. The countryside was superb in the sun, with primroses and bluebells adorning the banks of the roads. All returned safely, and the pre ordered lunch was served at 12.45pm, and proved a hearty feast which was much enjoyed. Gradually the car park emptied, and we all had an enjoyable drive home. Keep an eye on the New Forest events programme, there are a lot of events to enjoy this year, and we hope to see you out and about!

The lineup

Rolls Healey

Rolls Healey

In these days of the classic car cult, a lot is written about restoring and preserving interesting vehicles, less about how they perform and behave on the road. Perhaps actually driving them is becoming unfashionable.

The Rolls-Royce-engined Healey 4000 has suffered this treatment. Geoffrey Healey in his book has recorded how the Donald Healey Motor Company built the car in 1968 as the successor to the Austin Healey 3000 by widening a 3000 chassis some six inches and installing a four-litre Rolls Royce all-aluminium engine and automatic gearbox, the same unit and box as that used in the Princess R Vanden Plas saloon. Austins liked the car and commissioned a batch of prototypes, but the then British Motor Corporation cancelled the Project for various reasons after only three cars had been built, one automatic and two with manual Jaguar gearboxes. The three cars were sold by the Healey Motor Company; all exist – one belonging to John Gray in Australia, in the process of a total rebuild. TNX 65G went to Bristol, where quite by chance my son heard of it and we were lucky enough to acquire the vehicle in 1974.

It is not surprising that with only three prototypes built, all disappearing for a number of years, few people have had a chance to find out how the 4000 compares with its predecessor on the road. TNX 65G is, as far as I know, the only one in use. The only road impressions written that I have come across were in a publication called “Auto” in August 1973, when it described and tested the manual car before it was sold to Australia. Obviously there are certain differences between the auto and manual cars, but allow a biased owner to compare the 4-litre with the production 3000. It is, in fact, very different.

The 3000 has definite appeal, because it is a powerful, noisy narrow and twitchy sports car, but by 1968 its road manners were without doubt dated for the mass market. It is a loveable (or for that matter, equally hateable) animal, epitomising what 1950’s/1960’s sports motoring was all about.

The Rolls 4-litre is altogether different – more powerful, quieter and smoother, with much greater comfort and much improved road-holding, due largely to the extra width – all the factors required to be a successful successor to the 3000. It is not a sports car in the true sense of the phrase, but a fine, high speed grand touring car in the Jaguar E-Type vein. Indeed, it has often been said that in 1968, it would have presented such a challenge to the E-Type market that it signed its own death warrant. The automatic transmission obviously swallows considerable power and loses “the punch” of the manual from rest. However, its mid-range acceleration is still outstanding and I particularly enjoy the ability to “kick down” into intermediate at between 60 and 70 mph for passing. The suspension configuration is standard Mk.III but the extra width does make for greater stability and enhanced road-holding. This is helped considerably by the extra torsional chassis strength provided by the “welded-in” transmission tunnel. As the 4-litre engine is aluminium the overall weight is little more than that of a 3000 Mk.III. The real difference is the incredible smoothness of the Rolls engine which gives its power (approx. 180 bhp) in a great, smooth surge all the way up the revolution range, peaking at about 5,500 rpm, without any mechanical fuss or noise. Twin electric cooling fans are fitted and the engine, of course, uses hydraulic tappets. The wider body and better seats and upholstery with which TNX 65G is fitted, together with the small adjustable steering wheel, help to bring the car up to date and make it more habitable for fast touring. Wheels are 5½” x 15 using 175 or 185 tyres. I prefer it on 175 tyres, which give good steering sensitivity.

I have not taken any stop-watch performance figures, as what is does is less important than how it does it. I suspect that the acceleration figures and top speed would be about the same as the 3000 because the extra Power is offset by some extra weight and greater frontal area. Its best point is the high speed cruising ability, matched with precise cornering in spite of the vintage Healey suspension).

It is a great machine on a sunny clay with the hood down, sweeping effortlessly across the Cotswolds with only the purr of the exhaust in your ears. Rolls Royce touring without all the expense. But think what the production model could have been. Improved suspension, a GT coupe body and the engine fitted with the twin-cam head de

veloped by Rolls Royce for this car and built experimentally, producing some 300 brake horse power. That would have been a Healey! Sadly Jaguar had it all their own way.

1 June 1981
Peter Cox

Note: TNX 65G now resides in The Healey Museum

 

Rolls Healey

 


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